27 May 2008

I Don't Feel Like Satan, but...

Today in class I had the students do an interview activity, as directed. They really just asked for each other's phone number, and as usual, the 15 year old boys were absolutely terrified of the idea of approaching a member of the opposite sex, and as usual, the girls seemed a bit put off.

I caught this one kid chatting with his friends, sitting down, in the corner, and I saw that a couple of them had at least done the two short interviews with other boys. I asked this kid to show me his paper and he reluctantly unrolled it, and the kid hadn't done a single damn thing. Not even the minimal heterophobic gender-segregated half that he could have done in two minutes. I told him he had to interview me on the spot, which he did awkwardly, and even wrote down my fake phone number wrong. I asked him what the hell had you been doing to no response and then said, "Ganbatte" -- do your best. He gave a sullen "hai," so I said, "Iya. Hontou ni gan-bat-te." No, really, do--your-- best.

It used to bug me how unresponsive students are when you give 'em pep talks, and then I started to see teachers sit the students down in the office and give them sometimes hour-long lectures about how they screwed up. The kids would either look-- you know-- dead inside, or else stare off into the distance with a hateful expression on their face.

Near the end of the class I picked a few students' names off a seating plan to read off one person's name and phony telephone number. It was all in kanji, so I really just chose students whose names I could read. So, "Okay-- Daredare-kun please read one name and telephone number," and it was that same freaking kid! I felt a bit flushed and slightly guilty, and the kid mumbled out my phone fake phone number without giving a name or putting it to anything resembling a sentence. The other kids gave him a long, sarcastic ovation after, which I'm sure didn't help. But, that same kid.

Metaphorically speaking, this kid had buried himself in his own ignorance and I pulled him out of the dirt and owned him in the face.

Metaphorically speaking.

13 May 2008

Kicking, If Not Flogging, A Dead Horse

Good morning, everyone. It's a bright and sunny 6:50 AM here in Saga, Japan, and I overslept by an hour. That is to say, for a week I'd been waking up at 5:30 or earlier due to jet lag and had a couple of hours in the morning of free time, which got less depressing and more awesome every day. That 7:30 train that used to me mind-numbingly early? Now just a cool breeze through my morning.

So speaking of mind-numbing! I've been a bit slow updating this thing. In fact, I didn't see Adam's comment telling me to update for at least a couple of weeks. This, despite appearances, is not an update. No, this is simply a promise that I will update.

I've been to Hiroshima. I've been to Miyajima. I've been to Toronto, to Halifax, to Calgary and to Vancouver since I last wrote here, and I have the pictures to prove it. And since it's now 6:55 and I'm starting to think about a shower, I must leave you hanging on that last promise. Cheers!